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Here Comes The Wolfman!!!

To be honest, I didn't quite know what to expect from a Grinderman performance. I'd never seen them before but have been an ardent fan of The Bad Seeds for quite some years and always thoroughly enjoyed their live shows. It's unfair to compare the two bands though, they are completely different (and so they should be!). I suppose I did witness the birth of Grinderman back in Feb 2006 when Nick Cave did a solo tour with 3 of The Bad Seeds who were later to become Grinderman. At that show Nick strapped on the guitar (which in those days he had never done when playing with The Bad Seeds), and announced that his wife had bought it him for Christmas. I have to admit that I thought his guitar skills were somewhat limited. But that was 4 years ago and I'm happy to say that he's vastly improved since then.  At 7.30 prompt, the doors open and we make a dash for the rail...
The show started with a strange support act called Hunter Gracchus an experimental trio with screaming vocals, which seemed to go on for far too long, needless to say it wasn’t my cup of tea. With anticipation reaching fever pitch, Nick Cave and the rest of Grinderman hit the Manchester stage. To say the crowd erupted would be an understatement! With the 70's moustache gone, his black hair swept back over his diminishing hairline, an impeccably suited and patent booted rather skinny looking Nick Cave strode on into the gloomy light as the band burst into ‘Mickey Mouse And The Goodbye Man’. "Arrrwooooo-hooo" he wailed at us, and we all delightedly howled it back at him! He slowed the pace down a little with the next song ‘Worm Tamer’, where the humour in his lyrics really shine when he self-deprecatingly proclaims "You know my baby calls me The Loch Ness Monster, two great big humps and then I'm gone." 


The band strike into‘Heathen Child’, the first single from their second album. Nick storms around the stage and decides to get up on the drummers podium where he takes a slight tumble and nearly sends Jim's cymbals crashing to the floor.  Undeterred, he primal thrusts his way through the chorus, before jumping back to the stage and screams "Gimme the money, gimme the money!" to the frantic crowd. Decelerating again, he gives a beautiful rendition of ‘Palaces of Montezuma’. There's no rest for the wicked, as they say, and it's straight into ‘Evil!'.


The six upright light columns have search lights perched on top and they're spinning round like crazy, lighting up the audience in a beam of blue light. There's another chance to catch a breather when they slow the tempo down and perform a lovely mellow, ‘When My Baby Comes’ and ‘What I know’.  The crowd are positively buzzing when ‘Honeybee Let's Fly To Mars’ is given to us, and like a well aimed pistol shot, it hits us straight between the eyes!  .There is no doubt that Cave is a tremendous performer, but at 53 years old, where does he get all that energy? He was positively feeding off the baying crowd as he delivered an intensely physical performance that any 20 something year old would be proud of. Chaos reigned supreme tonight, as the energetic front man karate-style kicked his way through the songs. Almost trashing the stage on a number of occasions when the mic lead got caught round some of the stage gear, knocking over a stand, scattering his songs notes all over the floor. Pacing menacingly up and down the edge of the stage, pointing his fingers manically at the front row, the sweat was literally pouring off the insanely posturing Nick Cave. With his jacket removed, we're treated to another one of his humour and sexual innuendo filled songs, ‘Kitchenette’. "He keeps his glass eye on the pillow and his dentures floating in a glass, kinda makes it hard to relax." Crowd pleaser, ‘No Pussy Blues’, is up next and the writhing throng are not disappointed.  The first set ended with a gorgeous ‘Bellringer Blues’.


At one point, he reached into the crowd and got pulled in (just to the right of us) by two eager young girls. He was virtually across Mel's shoulders, ensnared by the mob but despite being mauled by anyone who could reach him, including myself Cave carried on singing till the security guys pulled him back to safety. He didn’t appear at all fazed by this incident.

Grinderman are not all about Nick Cave. He has a brilliant right hand man in Warren Ellis, who danced round like a deranged marionette on acid. When he wasn't searching out never before heard of chords on his mandocaster and violin, he was whacking the living daylights out of his cymbals and anything else he could lay his multi talented hands on. Martyn Casey and Jim Schavunos, provide perfectly the vital throbbing engine of Grinderman's raucous style. With the huddled assembly shouting for more, the refreshed Grinderman return to the stage and play ‘When My Love Comes Down’ and a dynamic ‘Love Bomb’. Once again they leave, but the masses plead for more and they soon return to end the evening with a haunting rendition of, ‘Grinderman’, leaving a thoroughly satiated Manchester crowd in their wake.


All too soon the show was over and we leave the Academy on cloud nine, secure in the knowledge that we had witnessed one of the most outrageous performers on the planet. And to cap it all, on the way back to the car we bumped into Nick as he was leaving the venue. As polite (off stage) as ever, he willingly posed for photos, and to our surprise greeted Mel and I with a kiss and a hug. What a perfect end to an incredible evening.


"Once upon a time rock music was sung by the young to offend the old, now it is sung by the old to embarrass the young" Sebastian Horsley

Review by Vanessa
Photos by Mel